Presettlements of Gbi & Peki Township

Presettlements of Gbi & Peki Township

The Gbis from Ghana's Volta Region consist of two groups of towns located in the Gbi Traditional Area and Peki Traditional Area.

Even though only one of the two areas officially bears the name Gbi, the two groups have in recent decades been referred to by some as Gbi Anyigbe: Downhill Gbi, and Gbi Dzigbe: Uphill Gbi. They have also been referred to as Gbi North & Gbi South respectively.

History has it that the Gbis originally were a single

group and one of many belonging to the Ewe ethnic group that lived under the fierce rule of Agokoli

their leader, in Notsie, Togo. The Gbis were among subjects of Agokoli who eventually escaped from the infamous Notsie Kingdom.

According to popular history, Agokoli was ruthless and treated his subjects like slaves.

Oral narratives originating from Ewe groups that escaped from Agokoli's rule put Gbis and other Ewes in a fortified walled city where they endured untold suffering. 

What became known as the Great Wall is said to have been built by forced labor. Mortar for the construction of the Great Wall was produced from a mix of mud, thorns, rocks and glasses broken with bare feet. 

Not even women were spared under Agokoli's reign, according to the narratives. Women were assigned impossible tasks like the production of ropes from mud.

In the end, the majority of Agokoli's subjects, the Gbis included, managed to escape, leading to the collapse of the Notsie kingdom.
The rebels were said to have escaped from the kingdom one deep night, after secretly throwing water on a particular spot on the Great Wall consistently for a period long enough to weaken that part. On the night of their escape, they successfully broke parts of the weakened spot and bolted undetected.

One of the most interesting parts of the story regarding the escape is the strategy adopted by the escapees, which is largely credited for their success: They walked backwards toward their escape route, misleading their trackers toward the opposite direction. Once out of Agokoli's reach, different groups moved towards different directions in search of new settlements. The Gbis are said to have remained together on their way to finding a permanent settlement. However, some of their members got lost, forcing them at some point to reorganize to go find them. 
Gbi Traditional Area and Peki Traditional area are located several towns apart in two different districts in Ghana’s Volta Region – the Hohoe Municipality and South Dayi District.

A few different accounts pertaining to the split have survived through generations of oral narratives.

The most widely spread narrative has it that after the group arrived at the place that became known as Hohoe, they realized a chunk of

their members couldn't be accounted for. They were left behind. Consequently, the elders selected able men and women from each of
the seven clans that formed Gbi to go find their lost kinsmen. The
search team did not return. They stopped at Peki.

 After overcoming several challenges including battles with groups that settled on the land before them, they became the dominant group and integrated peacefully with the people.


Interviews by Antoinette Herrmann-Condobrey with Togbega Gabusu VI, Togbe Kwadzo Dei XI and other Gbis, as well as various documentations by historians on the Notse Kingdom, all point to the same story line – that Agokoli was ruthless.

Togbe Agokoli VI, on the other hand, had something very different to add; claims that expectedly surprise many. According to him, Agorkoli I was not the ruthless tyrant that the world came to know him as. Instead, he was an overly protective leader who went all lengths to keep his kingdom safe. Aggression was the order of the day during those ancient times – Agokoli VI emphasized, explaining that his ancestor's main goal was to protect his subjects from enemies who constantly invaded, attacked and defeated weaker groups. To succeed in keeping his people safe, Agokoli ensured that his kingdom was on top of its game by putting in place many of the measures that have been described as ruthless. For Agokoli VI, the Great Wall, described as a symbol of oppression, was rather proof of how protective a leader Agokoli I was, and the extent to which the king went in trying to keep his people safe.

The most shocking part of Agokoli VI's version of the story, perhaps, is his assertion that those who escaped from the kingdom are believed to be lazy and uncooperative subjects who couldn't keep up with the rules of a no-nonsense leader.

Other, slightly different versions of this story, exist in scattered forms - most of which point to the ruthlessness of Agokoli I - the versions believed mostly to have led to the rebellion and collapse of the Notsie Kingdom.

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